MONTREAL — The Montreal Impact made it official on Wednesday. After several days of reports and rumors, the club presented former MLS original Jesse Marsch as their head coach when the team joins Major League Soccer next season.
Club president Joey Saputo introduced Marsch as a real competitor and a true winner.
"Jesse Marsch is a hard-working coach, who will bring passion and energy to our club," Saputo said. "He has the knowledge and experience having worked at the highest level in North America."
The new head coach introduced himself in French, before switching to his native English.
"It’s an honor to be named the first head coach of the Montreal Impact in the MLS," Marsch said. "There are good soccer people in this organization, this is a great opportunity to build something special. My time in the MLS and with the US national team exposed me to this game at the highest level. We will be committed to the process of becoming a winning team."
Marsch, 37, has most recently been an assistant coach with the US national team under Bob Bradley, who was relieved of his duties several weeks ago. Marsch's move to Montreal will be his first go as a head coach, one that he seems to be relishing.
"Montreal is a vibrant, multicural city," he said. "A soccer city. We want to create something unique and a put a team that the fans can be proud of."
Technical director Nick De Santis and director of soccer operations Matt Jordan initially began talks with Marsch in March, and the decision to hire him was made a few weeks ago, during the MLS All-Star break.
A graduate of Princeton University, Marsch joined D.C. United in 1996, under then coach Bruce Arena. He won an MLS Cup that first season, and repeated the feat the next year. The following season, he joined the expansion Chicago Fire, then coach by Bradley, and won helped the club to its only MLS Cup, Marsch's third in a row. In total, Marsch played 14 seasons in the league with United, the Fire, and Chivas USA.
He retired in 2009 as one of the most decorated players in MLS history. In addition to his three MLS Cups, he won four US Open Cups (1996, 1998, 2000 and 2003) and was named an All-Star in 2001. He is also one of only three players to have played in each of the first 14 seasons in MLS history, appearing in a total of 321 regular-season games and scoring 31 goals. He also received two caps from the US national team.
He plans to bring all this experience to bear in 2012.
"In 1998, I was part of the Chicago expansion team that won the MLS Cup, but it was my hardest season," admitted Marsch. "We need to be prepared and mentally strong for a 10-month season."
Marsch will start working with the Impact once the current NASL season is finished, but he said he plans on being present at the team’s games and practices.